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April 28, 2015 0

U.S. Islamic Extremism Arrests In 2015 Exceed 2014 Numbers

Christopher Lee Cornell, arrested in January 2015

Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell, arrested in Jan­u­ary 2015

Thirty-one indi­vid­u­als liv­ing in the U.S. have been linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy in the first four months of 2015. This sur­passes the total in each of the past two years: 26 indi­vid­u­als  liv­ing in the U.S. were linked to such ter­ror­ism in all of 2014 and 22 in 2013.

ADL has issued a new report that sheds light on the demo­graph­ics of these indi­vid­u­als and may pro­vide con­text for think­ing about the approx­i­mately 180 unknown Amer­i­cans believed to have trav­eled to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq, an unknown num­ber of whom may have joined ter­ror­ist organizations.

The report details the affil­i­a­tions, plans and aims of U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by the ide­olo­gies of Islamic extremism.

About 81% of the U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­olo­gies since 2014 have sup­ported ISIS, influ­enced at least in part by the group’s sophis­ti­cated use of social media com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment, as well as by the high vol­ume of cov­er­age sur­round­ing its activ­ity and the ongo­ing pres­ence of con­flict in Syria and Iraq.

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Of those indi­vid­u­als linked to ter­ror­ism in 2015, 16 indi­vid­u­als are believed to have trav­eled or planned to travel to join ter­ror groups abroad, 3 are believed to have attempted to aid other Amer­i­cans in join­ing ISIS, and 7 were attempt­ing to fund ISIS.

Eleven of the indi­vid­u­als were also engaged in domes­tic plots. Five out of the 7 plots dis­cussed were directed against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions or per­son­nel – long­stand­ing tar­gets for such vio­lence.

The report also exam­ines demo­graphic sta­tis­tics of the indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing age, gen­der, eth­nic­ity and geo­graphic distribution.

The indi­vid­u­als arrested in 2015 range in age from 16 to 47.

At least seven of them, or just under one-quarter, were con­verts to Islam. That per­cent­age is com­pa­ra­ble to the per­cent­age in 2014.

Nine of the 31 indi­vid­u­als had fam­ily mem­bers who have also been impli­cated in Islamic extrem­ist activity.

Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic, arrested in February 2015

Ramiz and Sed­ina Hodzic, arrested in Feb­ru­ary 2015

Five of them were women, result­ing in a total of 14 women linked to Islamic extrem­ism since the start of 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but these num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant increase, which may result in part from direct recruit­ment of women by ISIS.

Islamic extrem­ism related arrests in 2015 have taken place in 11 states, includ­ing 6 indi­vid­u­als arrested in New York, 4 each in

Min­nesota and Illi­nois, 3 in Mis­souri and 2 each in Ohio, Cal­i­for­nia and Kansas One Amer­i­can was arrested in Pak­istan but was orig­i­nally from Texas.

The full report is avail­able on the ADL website.

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April 14, 2015 3

New ISIS Videos Threaten U.S. Amid Increase In Domestic Plots

Image promoting new ISIS video

Image pro­mot­ing new ISIS video

Two new videos released this week by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demon­strate a ramp­ing up of threats against the U.S. as ter­ror groups increas­ingly call for home­grown attacks against West­ern coun­tries – and as indi­vid­u­als increas­ingly appear to be heed­ing those calls.

Recent arrests of U.S. res­i­dents plan­ning domes­tic attacks in ISIS’s name indi­cates that such calls for vio­lence can have an impact on Amer­i­cans moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism and the pro­pa­ganda they find online dis­trib­uted by ISIS and other ter­ror groups.

There have been five alleged instances of domes­tic plots in the U.S. in 2015, rang­ing from con­ver­sa­tions about the pos­si­bil­ity of attack to actual attempted attacks. All were report­edly planned by indi­vid­u­als claim­ing alle­giance to ISIS.

  • Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell of Ohio, arrested in Jan­u­ary for his alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad.
  • Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov of New York, arrested in Feb­ru­ary and charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror. Court doc­u­ments state they were attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack.
  • Hasan and Jonas Edmonds of Illi­nois, arrested in March and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.
  • Noelle Velentzas and Asia Sid­diqui of New York, arrested in April for allegedly pur­chas­ing bomb-making equip­ment with plans for an attack.
  • John T. Booker and Alexan­der Blair of Kansas, arrested in April for allegedly attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at the Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.

These are among the 23 U.S. res­i­dents arrested on ter­ror charges thus far in 2015, all but two of whom claimed alle­giance to ISIS.

Both of the videos released this week fea­ture ref­er­ences to pre­vi­ous ter­ror attacks in West­ern coun­tries and footage of bru­tal exe­cu­tions of ISIS vic­tims in Iraq and Syria, as well as encour­age­ment of individually-directed domes­tic plots.

One of the videos, released on April 10, was titled “We Will Burn Amer­ica.” It fea­tured footage and praise of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Cen­ter along with nar­ra­tion in Ara­bic with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles stat­ing, “Sep­tem­ber 11 will be repeated.”

The video also fea­tures images from the attack on the Paris kosher super­mar­ket and shoot­ings in Canada, both of which were under­taken by indi­vid­u­als act­ing in ISIS’s name, as well as images of behead­ings by ISIS. Its style was rem­i­nis­cent of ISIS’s feature-film-length pro­pa­ganda video “Flames of War,” which was shot to resem­ble an action movie and high­lights the group’s ide­o­log­i­cal claims of a bat­tle between good and evil, Islam and the West.

“We Will Burn Amer­ica” was released on Twit­ter with the hash­tag #we_will_burn_america. ISIS reg­u­larly encour­ages its sup­port­ers to par­tic­i­pate in hash­tag cam­paigns designed to arti­fi­cially cre­ate trend­ing items and spread the group’s pro­pa­ganda. Last sum­mer, the group under­took two hash­tag cam­paigns sim­i­larly threat­en­ing the U.S., with the hash­tags #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS and #AMes­sage­FromI­SIS­ToUS.

The sec­ond video, released April 14, takes the form of a music video encour­ag­ing lone-wolf attacks and threat­en­ing West­ern coun­tries. The lan­guage is Ger­man, with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles. ISIS has released mul­ti­ple music videos to appeal to young audi­ences while con­vey­ing the group’s messages.

A screenshot from the new ISIS music video

A screen­shot from the new ISIS music video

Addressed “to the ene­mies of Allah,” the video’s nar­ra­tion states that “this is a mes­sage and more are going to fol­low.” The video por­trays a man read­ing the Qu’ran and watch­ing ISIS pro­pa­ganda on his com­puter, includ­ing graphic videos of behead­ings, the burn­ing of the Jor­dan­ian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, mass killings, and wounded sol­diers. “We want your blood,” it states, “it tastes so wonderful.”

It then shows indi­vid­u­als prepar­ing for dif­fer­ent types of domes­tic attacks, includ­ing a stab­bing, car bomb, and a sui­cide bomb­ing in Times Square, as well as learn­ing about gun use and bomb-making online – seem­ingly exam­ples for would-be domes­tic attack­ers and an acknowl­edg­ment of the impor­tance of online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda. Images of pre­vi­ous attacks against the West, includ­ing the attack against the Paris kosher super­mar­ket, are shown as well. “In France it has been proven by deeds. Ger­man sleeper cell are wait­ing,” it states. “Allah has called you! … Your neigh­bor is a kaf­fir (apos­tate)… take a big knife and give him what he rightly deserves.”

The release of the videos comes as ISIS is los­ing ter­ri­tory and recruits in the Mid­dle East. Losses by ter­ror­ist groups have often cor­re­sponded with increased calls for attacks abroad, which do not require resource expen­di­ture by the ter­ror group itself and can then be claimed as vic­to­ries for the group. Al Shabaab, for exam­ple, has sim­i­larly released calls for domes­tic attacks abroad in the past year as it under­goes losses of recruits, lead­er­ship, and ter­ri­tory in Soma­lia and its sur­round­ing countries.

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March 27, 2015 1

9 People Linked To Islamic Extremism Cases In Illinois Since 2012

Hasan Edmonds and Jonas Edmonds

Court sketch of Hasan and Jonas Edmonds

Hasan and Jonas Edmonds, arrested yes­ter­day for con­spir­ing to travel abroad to join the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and orches­trate an attack in the U.S., are the 8th and 9th peo­ple from Illi­nois linked to Islamic extrem­ist activ­ity since 2012.

Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old con­vert to Islam and a mem­ber of the National Guard, and his cousin, 29-year-old Jonas (Yunus) Edmonds told under­cover inves­ti­ga­tors that they wanted to travel to ISIS-controlled ter­ri­tory with their fam­i­lies and become fight­ers but that, fail­ing that, they wanted to attack the U.S. When Jonas Edmonds was unable to acquire a pass­port because of a past felony con­vic­tion, Hasan Edmonds con­tin­ued his own travel plans while assist­ing Jonas in get­ting mate­ri­als for and plan­ning an attack on the mil­i­tary base where Hasan trained.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Hasan posted pro-ISIS state­ments and YouTube videos on his Face­book pro­file. He and Jonas were also vocal about their plans and beliefs in con­ver­sa­tions with an under­cover agent whom they met online. “Hon­estly we would love to do some­thing like the brother in Paris did,” wrote Hasan Edmonds, in a ref­er­ence to the attacks on the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and kosher gro­cery store in Paris this Jan­u­ary. “Hit here and then go to dawlah (ISIS con­trolled ter­ri­tory) inshaAl­lah (God will­ing). We’ll fight wher­ever need be…. Sha­hada (mar­tyr­dom) is a bless­ing.” In other con­ver­sa­tions, he stated, “If I find myself stuck here [in the U.S.]. I intend to take advan­tage of being so close to the kuf­far (apos­tates, used here to indi­cate non-Muslims),” and, “The best of mankind are the mujahideen (fight­ers). May Allah place me among their ranks.”

In speak­ing of plan­ning an attack, he wrote, “We can surely do some­thing. Even the kaf­firs (apos­tates) here are fight­ing the police and gov­ern­ment so we can really strick (sic) harder in tue (sic) cause of Allah,” and, “It would be hard to pull off a lager (sic) scale attack on the gov­ern­ment but police sta­tions and courts are pretty easy and its been done before by kufar (apos­tates) some­times just one person.”

The cousins’ state­ments also attest to the effec­tive­ness of ISIS’s recent strat­egy of devel­op­ing world­wide fran­chises. “When the women are under the pro­tec­tion of the dawlah (ISIS) under any province under the dawlahs rule (any coun­try) we are ready for what­ever our orders may be,” Hasan Edmonds told an under­cover agent accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. In another con­text he allegedly stated, “I am fine being in Egypt, Sham, or Libya to be hon­est akhi (brother, mean­ing com­pan­ion). I just want to answer the call.”

Groups includ­ing Ansar Beyt al Maqdis in Egypt and Boko Haram in Nige­ria have pledged alle­giance to ISIS in recent months, and ISIS strives to cre­ate the impres­sion that it has a global pres­ence in its propaganda.

ISIS has also been encour­ag­ing its adher­ents to either under­take domes­tic attacks or travel abroad in recent months.

This mes­sage has been reflected in the actions of its sup­port­ers. In 2015, the Edmonds plot is the third instance of ISIS sup­port­ers in the U.S. plan­ning a domes­tic attack after unsuc­cess­fully attempt­ing to join ISIS. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so. In addi­tion, 2015 has seen 13 U.S. res­i­dents (includ­ing the Edmonds cousins) charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ISIS.

33 U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to ISIS since 2014.

Other Illi­nois res­i­dents accused of attempt­ing to aid for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions or carry out ter­ror attacks in the U.S.  include Jamishid Muh­torov, arrested in 2012 for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to the Chechen ter­ror group Islamic Jihad Union; Abdel Daoud, arrested in 2012 for plan­ning a domes­tic attack; Abdel­lah Tounisi, arrested in 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra; Mohammed Hamza Khan and his brother and sis­ter, detained in 2014 for attempted to join ISIS (Khan’s brother and sis­ter are minors and have not been charged); and Mediha Medy Sal­kice­vic and Jas­minka Ramic, arrested in 2015 for attempt­ing to send money to ISIS.

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